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Friday, November 30, 2007

Poetry Friday


If you wander the blogosphere, especially the blogs of children's writers and other literary types, you'll find a preponderance of "Poetry Friday" entries. It seems that poetry is not only accepted, it is being heavily promoted! I don't consider myself a trendy person, but I think this is one movement I'd like to support.

So...each Friday I'll talk about a poem, poet, book of poetry, or something else that is poetry related. This week I'll start with a children's anthology illustrated by Chris L. Demarest: I Invited a Dragon to Dinner: And Other Poems to Make You Laugh Out Loud [J 811 I]. This collection of short nonsense poems should appeal to the elementary school aged child. Here's a sample by Kathy Duval from her poem, "Cosmic Cafe":
If the moon is made of cheese,
Give me one thick moon slice, please.

(You may be interested to know that Chris Demarest lives in New Hampshire!)

If "Poetry Friday" appeals to you, explore these sites/blogs:

  • Blue Rose Girls

  • Laura Salas

  • Seven Impossible Things before Breakfast


  • For more "Poetry Friday" places, visit the Poetry Foundation site.

    Thursday, November 29, 2007

    Sleep...

    When I had my killer cold last week, the most bothersome part of it was my inability to sleep due to the persistent cough. Boy, did I feel miserable after a few days of not sleeping. This morning I read an article in the British paper, The Independent, on the topic of sleep. The article was interesting, but I did find the writer's personal comments to be mildly disturbing:
    We spend one-third of our lives asleep. Imagine the possibilities if we could do without it. It would be the equivalent of adding 25 or 30 years to the average life-span – an enormous gain, at the expense of nothing more than the loss of slumber.

    As if we don't have enough activity already scheduled into our lives! The article, though, did go on to list a number of accidents that resulted from sleep deprivation, so make sure you get your 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night.

    Sleep is the subject of many nonfiction books, but today I'll simply look at sleep in fiction and film. Madeleine is Sleeping by Sarah Bynum [F BYN] was a finalist for the 2004 National Book Award. Here's part of the Publisher's Weekly review:
    The book culminates in a masterful merge between Madeleine's waking life and her dreams, making it impossible to discern whether reality ever existed in Bynum's imaginative tale. Replete with Kafkaesque metamorphoses, Freudian fantasies, Aesopian justice and religious metaphor, the novel is equal parts fairy tale, fable, romance and bildungsroman. At times, the allegorical allusions grow predictable, and some readers may be put off by the constant shifts and uncertainty between fact and fiction. Others looking for a challenging, unusual read will be thrilled by the imagination and mysterious energy that haunt this remarkable debut.

    The Norwegian film, Insomnia [VIDEO INS] is a psychological police drama in which the main character, a detective, accidentally kills his partner and tries to hide his involvement. Guilt, and the seemingly endless Norwegian summer days, rob him of his sleep and, his common sense. The film was remade with Al Pacino [DVD INS]. You may want to compare the two versions, but don't stay up too late doing it!

    Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    Modern Life

    I heard on the radio that Henry Mancini's "Pink Panther" has been on the "Top 40 Ringtones" list for the past two years! Funny, but I don't recall ever hearing it emanating from any of the millions of phones I hear ringing every week.

    I decided to check out the list and found that "Pink Panther" has been on the Billboard list for longer than two years. It's now up to three years (160 weeks to be exact). I also found that the list is officially called "Hot Ringtones." There is another ringtone that has been on the list for a longer period of time, Koji Kondo's "Super Mario Brothers Theme." It has been on the list for 162 weeks!

    So what do you have on your phone? My choices have been customized to fit the caller, and my daughter has done the same. I have The Cure's "Close to Me" for her calls, and she has The B-52's "Rock Lobster" for my calls. I had a grand time picking out and uploading tones until someone told me that it cost money! Any new friends I make will have to be rung in with whatever tones came standard on the phone. (Yes, I'm cheap.)

    (If you now have The B-52's, The Cure, and Henry Mancini songs running through your head, you can borrow these: The B-52's [CD ROCK BFI], The Cure Greatest Hits [CD ROCK CUR], Ultimate Mancini [CD MISCELLANEOUS MAN].)

    Speaking of phones, you may want to fashion together a little cell phone doodad for your own phone or for a holiday stocking stuffer. Sherri Haab will show you how to make cell phone trinkets in Dangles and Bangles: 25 Funky Accessories to Make and Wear [YA 745.5 HAA]. All you need is wire and beads. Haab, in The Hip Handbag Book: 25 Easy-to-Make Totes, Purses, and Bags [YA 746.48 HAA] also explains how to make a simple embroidered cell phone bag that is quite attractive.

    If knitting is your forte, Debbie Stoller's books, Stitch 'n Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook and Stitch 'n Bitch Nation [both 746.432 STO], have some cute knitted cell phone cozies. "Mobile Monsters" are phone covers with snouts and ears!

    Fifteen years ago mobile phones were the size of shoes! Modern life moves at lightning speed and we now have "hot ringtones" and phone cozies. I can't wait to see what's next!


    This is awesome, an origami Pink Panther!

    Tuesday, November 27, 2007

    Sing! It's Good for Your Health!


    Probably my favorite part of the holiday season is the music. I love singing carols. I came across a site that promotes the health aspects of singing and is sponsoring a week of singing (12/8-12/15) as a fundraiser for heart research. Here's some information from the site, if you doubt the health claims:
    Singing even helps you live longer according to the findings of a joint Harvard and Yale study which showed that choral singing increased the life expectancy of the population of New Haven, Connecticut. The report concluded that this was because singing promoted both a healthy heart and an enhanced mental state. Another study at the University of California has reported higher levels of immune system proteins in the saliva of choristers after performing a complex Beethoven masterwork.

    It's too bad that the fundraiser is taking place in the U.K., but that doesn't mean that you can't lift your voice in song that week--just expect a funny look or two.

    Borrow one of our holiday music CDs to put you in the mood. Here are some of our newer titles:

    Celtic Woman. A Christmas Celebration. [CD HOLIDAY CEL]

    Groban, Josh. Noel. [CD HOLIDAY GRO]

    Klezmatics. Woody Gurthrie's Happy Joyous Hanuka. [CD HOLIDAY KLE]

    McLachlan, Sarah. Wintersong. [CD HOLIDAY MCL]

    Taylor, James. James Taylor at Christmas. [CD HOLIDAY TAY]

    Monday, November 26, 2007

    I'm Back!

    Although it seemed like I might not return from the depths of chest congestion Hell, I have made it out alive! I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday.

    Now it's on to the next round of winter holiday festivities!

    I'd like to alert you to an opportunity that you may not have heard of. It's the Robert's Snow Snowflake auction. Last week was the first round of auctions. This week, a whole new set of snowflakes is going up to bid. The lucky winners will not only possess a unique work of art, but they will also supporting cancer research projects through The Jimmy Fund at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

    Robert's Snow is a picture book that was written and illustrated by Grace Lin [JP LIN] for her husband Robert Mercier while he was undergoing cancer treatment. Sadly, Robert lost his battle with cancer in August. This year's snowflake auction will be a blockbuster event that will honor Robert's life.

    There are at least two NH illustrators whose snowflakes are up for bid this week--Denise Ortakales and Tim Coffey, check them out.

    The variety of art is astounding, and, I'd suggest looking at next week's auction items where the variety is most apparent. Some of the snowflakes have been transformed into 3 dimensional works.

    Bid early and bid often, and bring your winning item to the library for us to "oooh and aahh" over! Good luck!

    Monday, November 19, 2007

    Home Sick

    ...so nothing much today. I started coughing at work on Friday and Elaine showed me an email she had received that mentioned using Vicks VapoRub for a nighttime cough. You need to slather the Vicks on the soles of your feet, put on a pair of socks, and go to bed. The promise was, no cough. I tried it. Slathered my feet and put on my socks. I still coughed, but now I have the softest feet in the world! If you're curious about some other uses for Vicks, there are several sites on the internet, here's one. I'm not advocating that you try any of them, but if you do, a word of advice, use common sense!

    See you tomorrow!

    Friday, November 16, 2007

    Poetry Tool

    I stumbled across a fabulous web page for those interested in poetry, or who teach using poetry. It's called Poetry Tool and it enables you to find a poem for almost any occasion, or on any topic. It also allows you to select a specific poet.

    Since Thanksgiving is less than a week away, I clicked on "Occasion" and then "Thanksgiving," and was directed to nine different poems. Here's part of one by Paul Laurence Dunbar called "Signs of the Time."
    Air a-gittin' cool an' coolah,
    Frost a-comin' in de night,
    Hicka' nuts an' wa'nuts fallin',
    Possum keepin' out o' sight.
    Tu'key struttin' in de ba'nya'd,
    Nary a step so proud ez his;
    Keep on struttin', Mistah Tu'key,
    Yo' do' know whut time it is.

    To read the whole poem, click here, or, better yet, borrow our copy of American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century, volume two [811 AME v. 2]. You'll find more poems by Dunbar, and his work sits alongside works by other poets of the time period.

    Thursday, November 15, 2007

    The National Book Award

    The National Book Awards were announced last night in New York. I'm happy to say that we already own three out of the four winners!




    For Fiction: Tree of Smoke by Dennis Johnson [F JOH].






    For Nonfiction: Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner [327.1273 WEI].





    For Poetry: Time and Materials by Robert Hass [on order].









    For Young People's Literature: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie [YA ALE].





    Just a few random thoughts:

    Three of the four winners have been released within the last three months, the fourth was released in June. It makes me wonder if a book has a better chance of winning the award if it is fresh in the minds of the judges?

    In three of the four winners, the cover art is quite catching. Might cover art have any influence? I'm sure it does for sales!

    I was browsing the list of past winners for Young People's Literature and I don't believe any of the winners are picture books. As a writer of picture books, I find this to be distressing. Picture books texts are distilled writing, and as anyone who writes knows, it is often more difficult to write something short than it is to write long. To write an outstanding picture book is definitely an accomplishment! Picture book writers are generally ignored--the Caldecott Medal is given "to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children." The New York Times releases a list of Best Illustrated Books. C'mon guys--it's not fair!

    Wednesday, November 14, 2007

    Penguins


    We recently purchased a new book about penguins--Smithsonian Q & A: The Ultimate Question and Answer Book: Penguins by Lloyd Spencer Davis [598.47 DAV]. Everything you could possibly want to know about the flightless birds who live way down under, at least I thought the book covered everything until I looked up penguin sweaters. I had read several years back about a rescue effort involving sweaters for penguins. You can read about it here or here.

    Seeing the little critters all decked out is sure to elicit a great big "Aahhh...how cute!"

    Have you seen March of the Penguins [DVD 598.47 MAR]? The penguins are cute, but after viewing the film, you'll have a greater respect for the creatures and the phenomenal odds they face.

    Tuesday, November 13, 2007

    Aren't You Glad We Don't Have a King?


    This morning on BBC radio I heard a story about two political cartoonists who were fined heavily for "damaging the prestige of the crown." In a weekly satirical magazine, the cartoonists poked fun at the royal family. I guess portraying them having sexual relations was offensive. While I may not agree with how the satire was portrayed, I am dismayed that censorship has been the result.

    We have several books dealing with the issue of censorship, here are two:

    Heins, Marjorie. Not in Front of the Children: "Indecency," Censorship and the Innocence of Youth. [303.3 HEI]

    Karolides, Nicholas J. 100 Banned Books: Censorship Histories of World Literature. [363.3 KAR]

    I am in awe of our Constitution and the Bill of Rights which guarantee freedom of speech. It's a strange time we live in, and a refresher course in the documents that govern us may be in order! At the very least, we should read them every once in a while! Browse our shelves in the 342.73 section.

    Monday, November 12, 2007

    On Veterans Day

    A poem by Isaac Rosenberg (1890-1918):


    Returning, We Hear The Larks


    Sombre the night is.
    And though we have our lives, we know
    What sinister threat lurks there.

    Dragging these anguished limbs, we only know
    This poison- blasted track opens on our camp –
    On a little safe sleep.

    But hark! joy – joy – strange joy.
    Lo! heights of night ringing with unseen larks.
    Music showering our upturned list'ning faces.

    Death could drop from the dark
    As easily as song –
    But song only dropped,
    Like a blind man's dreams on the sand
    By dangerous tides,
    Like a girl's dark hair for she dreams no ruin lies there,
    Or her kisses where a serpent hides.

    Friday, November 09, 2007

    Rachael Ray


    Some people love Rachael Ray, while others can't take the overdose of perky. Obviously there are plenty of people who love her since she is now seen everywhere! It seems like every six months she comes out with a new cookbook. Her latest, Just in Time: All-New 30-Minutes Meals, Plus Super-Fast 15-Minute Meals and Slow It Down 60-Minute Meals was released on Tuesday and already it is Barnes & Noble's #10 bestseller! (We have it on order, so check the library shelves in a few weeks.)

    We currently have five of Ray's cookbooks in the adult section (most with the call number 641.555 RAY) and one in children's--Cooking Rocks!: Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals for Kids [J 641.5 RAY]. We also have Every Day with Rachael Ray [MAG EVE], a magazine that comes out 10 times a year.

    For real Rachael Ray addicts, you can have a daily newsletter delivered to your inbox! How good is THAT?

    Thursday, November 08, 2007

    The Debate about "The Future of the Book"

    I remember doing some research a while back and coming across an article from the early 1900s about the coming "End of the Book." At that time it was the invention of the phonograph machine that was going to do the book in. Now it's the e-book.

    I read an article from the Christian Science Monitor not too long ago, which covered this current threat to the book. Our staff member, Terrie, sent me this article from the Chicago Tribune, which provides a picture of a happy e-book user. The debate, I'm sure, will continue until the next new threat comes along!



    So, is the printed book soon to be obsolete? That question remains to be answered, but if you'd like to read a printed BOOK about the role of books in our society, then look for A Splendor of Letters: The Permanence of Books in an Impermanent World by Nicholas A. Basbanes [302.2244 BAS]. And, I suggest you hurry before it's too late!

    Wednesday, November 07, 2007

    Happy Anniversary!

    This is the first anniversary of Kurious Kitty's Kurio Kabinet (actually the first posting was on 11/6/06, but it was just an announcement and not a real post)! I've covered a lot of topics. I've also mentioned a lot of library materials, but, with a collection of 79,000 items, I don't think I'll run out of library tie-ins any time soon!

    So, in honor of this milestone, I'm taking the day off! Actually, I'm taking a vacation day to do a elementary school visit. I'll be doing an "author presentation" for each of five grades, so, it's not really a vacation!


    Okay, I won't go without first mentioning something from the library's collection--Chase's Annual Events [R 394.26 CHA]. This book is published annually and contains a listing of thousands of events, anniversaries, holidays, etc. in date order. We already have the 2008 edition, so I guess KK's blog anniversary won't be included until at least 2009! (Dream on, KK!)

    Tuesday, November 06, 2007

    Crochet--It's Not Just Doilies Anymore

    Think back to the times when you were little and you visited the home of an older person. Do you remember the doilies and the antimacassars found on all the furniture? Chances are, these items were crocheted.

    Then, back in the the late 60s or early 70s there were those granny square vests--remember those? And ponchos! Those were crocheted, too.

    Well, crochet has been revamped, and like knitting, it's now hip to crochet! We have books for everyone, for kids through adults, that will teach you how to crochet, and then to go on an create some "hot" items.

    Britten, Sophie. Fun & Funky Crochet: 30 Exciting Projects for a Stylish New Look. [746.434 BRI]


    Davis, Jane. Crochet: Fantastic Jewelry, Hats, Purses, Pillows and More. [J 746.43 DAV]

    Kooler, Donna. Donna Kooler's Encyclopedia of Crochet. [746.43 KOO]

    Meldrum, Carol. Easy Crocheted Accessories: 30+ Fun and Fashionable Projects. [746.434 MEL]

    Here's a fun idea--take an old sweater and re-do it. You can add some interesting touches with crochet. Find out more in Anna-Stina Linden Ivarsson's Second-Time Cool: The Art of Chopping Up a Sweater [YA 646.408 LIN].

    There are plenty of online sites to help you, too. Lion Brand Yarn, a commercial site, has crochet how-to pages. If you really get hooked on crochet, then you may want to consider joining the Crochet Guild of America.

    I'd suggest starting now--you could have several projects finished in time for the holidays!

    Monday, November 05, 2007

    Memories of the Midway

    Way back on September 27, I promised I'd post my shots of the midway at the "Big E" at a later date. I didn't expect it to take me more than a month. But it's perhaps a fitting time to do it since winter is definitely on its way now and its nice to look back on the warmer times gone by!







    I think I'll slip in the Library tie-in here--a novel by Lee Durkee--Rides of the Midway [F DUR]. The publisher describes it this way:
    Funny and dark, Rides of the Midway is a brilliantly told story about a boy whose life spins completely out of control.


    Now back to the Big E...














    Start counting the days, the next Big E will take place September 12-28, 2008--a mere 312 days away!

    Friday, November 02, 2007

    Check Your Attics People!


    Last week a painting, not thought to be an original, sold at auction for more than 2 million pounds! The bidders and buyer suspected it might be a real Rembrandt and bid accordingly.

    The Library recently purchased The Rembrandt Book by Gary Schwartz [759.9492 SCH]. It is an absolutely gorgeous book full of color plates. Look for it on our "New Books" shelf--it has a Rembrandt self-portrait on the cover so you can compare it to the recently auctioned portrait and see what you think!

    For information on Rembrandt visit REMBRANDT: life, paintings, etchings, drawings & self portraits by JONATHAN JANSON, an attractively designed site with a whole section devoted to Rembrandt self-portraits. Rembrandt did more than 90 over his lifetime. I wonder...was it vanity or simply filling time between commissions?

    Thursday, November 01, 2007

    Detectives

    Yesterday, on All Things Considered, I heard a story about how Philadelphia and Baltimore are fighting over the remains of Edgar Allen Poe. It was mentioned that Poe is considered to be the father of the detective story. Although Poe wrote about cats, and ravens, and what have you, I don't think he ever thought about using an animal detective in a story.

    In recent years, there have been a number of writers who have written series that have animals solving, or helping to solve, a mystery. And these are not books written for children! Authors who use cats in detective role are Shirley Rousseau Murphy who has written the Joe Grey series. Joe Grey is a cat who speaks human. Joe appears in Cat Fear No Evil [MYS MUR], Cat to the Dogs [LP MYS MUR], and Cat Laughing Last [MYS MUR], to name just three. And for those who like a little romance with their mystery, you'll be happy to know that Joe has a girlfriend--Dulcie.

    Lilian Jackson Braun has written more than two dozen books featuring her human character, Jim Qwilleran, also known as Qwill, and his two cats, Koko and Yum Yum. We have quite a number of books in the "Cat Who..." series, such as The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell. We have this particular title in three formats--regular print [MYS BRA], large print [LP MYS BRA], and audio [AB/CD MYS BRA].

    Writer Rita Mae Brown claims to have co-authored with her cat, Sneaky Pie Brown, a series with a tiger cat, Mrs. Murphy, playing sleuth. Catch as Cat Can [MYS BRO] is one title.



    Two other cat series to look for are the "Midnight Louie" books by Carole Nelson Douglas, and the "Big Mike" series by Garrison Allen.